San Francisco and the California Coastal Trail

October 13-15, 2012

Once again, Allegiant Air, the cut-rate airline that offers non-stop no-frills flights to many smaller U.S. cities, made us an offer we couldn't refuse — this time with rock-bottom airfare from Mesa, AZ, to San Francisco. It gave us a chance to visit Jamie, and also to recover from six weeks of Kitchen Rehab.

For two extraordinary days of sunshine and cool breezes, we hiked San Francisco from one end to the other, beginning at the Embarcadero with an exploration of Fisherman's Wharf. Along the way, we spotted a set of stairs leading uphill toward Coit Tower. The stairs took us through an enchanting neighborhood of Victorian homes peeking out from dense vegetation cloaking the side of the steepest cliff in San Francisco. And partway uphill, we came beak-to-beak with the famous Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

Coit Tower offered fabulous views of the harborfront and distant mountains, and we were enchanted by the murals that decorate the inside of the tower. The murals were created by local artists and funded by the WPA.

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After completing our tour of Fisherman's Wharf, we headed back uphill, tagging along with trolleys along the Hyde-Powell line.

Sunday started out joy-riding on the streetcars, but quickly turned into another urban hiking adventure when a bus accident stopped all westbound traffic. We made our way through Haight Ashbury to Golden Gate Park, toured the DeYoung Museum and then caught a bus to Ocean Beach.

Cliff House and the Sutro Baths drew us uphill to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and we dined al fresco while we watched red-tailed hawks hang motionless in the breeze. It was already mid-afternoon when we discovered the California Coastal Trail, but we couldn't resist this former streetcar route high on the cliffs above the bay and well-shaded by elegrant Monterrey Cypress. For the rest of the day, we wandered along the coast, up and down countless wooden steps, getting lost in a residential area where the trail runs out, and finally arriving at the ruins of Fort Point at the Golden Gate Bridge just before sunset, having hiked close to 20 miles in two days.

Jamie met us for a wonderful dinner in North Beach, and saved us from a long BART ride back to Oakland.

Many thanks to Jamie for her generous hospitality, and to the very friendly citizens of San Francisco for a wonderful adventure!